‘The smaller missile will fly at 3.5 times the speed of sound’
A sleeker, more lethal version of the supersonic cruise missile BrahMos is under development and the prototype should be ready for testing in about three years, said Dr. Sudhir K. Mishra, CEO and MD of BrahMos Aerospace.
“We are working on BrahMos NG. The idea is to have a smaller missile with the same capabilities. So the missile will fly at 3.5 times the speed of sound instead of 2.8 Mach. The range will remain at 300 km,” Dr. Mishra said at the ongoing Aero India.
For this several mechanical components in the missile are being replaced with electrical components which will also reduce the size. A structural study has been carried out and several sub-systems have already been developed. “In three years we expect to develop a prototype for launch,” Dr. Mishra stated.
BrahMos is a joint venture between India and Russia and named after Brahmaputra and Moscowa rivers. It is capable of being launched from land, sea, sub-sea and air against surface and sea-based targets. The development trials of an anti-shipping variant began in 2003 and combat trials began in 2005.
The reduced weight enables the NG variant to be carried by the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). An LCA can carry two missiles while a Su-30MKI can carry five of them, Dr. Mishra added.
The land and sea variants of BrahMos are already operational with the Army and Navy and the air-launched version is under development.
The original range of the missile was 290 kms in line with the limitations of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). After India joined the grouping in June 2016, the range was extended to 450 kms and is to be further extended to 600kms.
Recently India had also successfully test-fired the missile with an indigenous seeker, a critical technology, in missiles. So far the seeker, a critical technology in missiles, came from Russia. The plan is to replace all the seekers with indigenous ones.
The seeker was jointly developed by Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad and BrahMos Aerospace.
Presently the missile is deployed on most of the Navy’s frontline warships and will be a standard fitment on all major warships in future. The Army has deployed three BrahMos regiments on the Western and Eastern borders. More BrahMos units are on order.
The IAF is modifying some Su-30MKIs to enable them to carry the air launched variant. This gives the IAF a long range standoff capability to target key enemy infrastructure.